Like most people, I have more to do than can realistically be done. Communicating effectively, and in the right channel helps me to understand the priority and scope of things that are being asked of me. The guidelines below will help others to know how I prioritize, follow-up, and learn about things going on around me.
Use project-specific applications (Trello, VersionOne, etc) for creating tickets or user stories specific to a project. This keeps the information in the system where it belongs and viewable by others. Although these systems may generate emails notifications to me, I frequently delete them without much reading due to the sheer quantity of these I get. Follow up with slack message, or email if you are waiting on me for something.
Documentation (Wiki’s & Charts) – If we are communicating about something that will end up useful as documentation for a product, Github Wiki’s are a great way to create that documentation so that it is tied to the project and viewable by others. Google Docs can create diagrams via Draw.io and are currently my preferred tool for creating diagrams. These diagrams are frequently linked to from the Github Wiki’s.
I frequently have 10+ Slack conversations going simultaneously in several teams. This means a lot of times things may go unread for half a day if I’m deep into a project. I pay more attention to certain channels than others. Slack is great for keeping conversations and knowledge in a public channel for people to catch up on asynchronously. Also great for real-time collaboration. Slack is a not a great way to ask me a question or ask me to do something unless I am actively participating in a conversation. The main problem here is that once a channel is read, I have no way to mark it unread, so it gets lost or buried. Slack is also not great for urgent situations where I’m not immediately responsive. Please only @brandon or @here if you really want my attention (don’t say “thanks @brandon” as I don’t really need to be notified of that).
Email is the best way to add things to my ‘todo’ list. If you find that you’ve asked me a question in Slack and it has gone unanswered for >12 hours, email is the best way to get it addressed as it does not go away until I delete it. When sending me an email, please make sure to include enough context and background information so that I don’t have to do research before I can respond. If talking about a specific account or document, please include links to those resources.
Google Docs is a great way to collaborate over the content of a document, spreadsheet, presentation, or diagram. The commenting system on Google Docs is useful in the context of the editor, but notification of comments are not a good indicator to me that I should reply to something. Follow up via Slack, then Email if you are waiting for me provide input on a one of these.
Text messages strongly preferred over phone calls. These are best for urgent information when I’m not responsive via slack.
Meeting in person
Best for high-bandwidth conversations where having a whiteboard would be useful. Schedule a meeting (pick an appropriate length of time) at https://meetme.so/bchecketts. Please provide clear instructions on how we will get together (you calling me, or me calling you, in-person at my office, or via Google Hangouts, skype, etc.)